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Cameras Everywhere: Somebody's Watching

10:56 PM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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From the moment you step outside your house, until the moment you walk back in the door, someone's watching you. Sometimes, someone is watching in your own home.

You have probably heard of parents using "nanny cameras" to catch inappropriate behavior. But, you may not realize there are thousands of other cameras capturing what we do every day. 

Just how many are watching us? It's impossible to count.

Some cameras are obvious.  You know about the cameras pointed at the roads and highways. Some cameras are not quite as obvious. Think about it: If you can cram an HD camera into a cell phone, there are a lot of other places you can hide a camera.

Even though it might feel creepy, some feel safer. Cameras are on parking garages, buildings, ATMs and even hidden inside people's shirt buttons.

"Most people, if they're not doing anything wrong, they're not worried about it," Private Investigator David Shelton said. "You can be on surveillance cameras any place you go. Whether it's in your work, out in public, at a store, a shopping center, a grocery store...you could be watched and you'll never know it." 

Investigators have all kinds of tools at their fingertips. Many of them look like ordinary objects, like a key fob. 

"If you go into a restaurant, lay it on a table and just looks like a set of keys and nobody thinks anything of it," Shelton said.

People have hired Shelton to hide cameras in places like air filters, flash drives, lights and even smoke detectors.

"If you're being honest, you don't need to worry about it. If you're being dishonest, it will catch up to you," Shelton said.

Plus, all of these devices still work.

It doesn't throw up a red flag as being a camera," Shelton said.

Companies often hire investigators to catch employees stealing.

"They've suspected either materials being stolen, intellectual property is leaking out," Shelton said.

Few would spot those kinds of cameras, but thousands of others are in plain sight.

"If you're in a public spot, you should probably have an understanding, there's a good possibility you're being seen by someone else," Greensboro Police Deputy Chief Wayne Scott said.

Greensboro police monitor and record about 700 camera feeds in places ranging from city streets to public buildings to trails. 

"There can't be an expectation that we can watch all 700 cameras. We don't have the resources for that," Scott said.
 
If you think the system can scan hours of video looking for a person like you see on some TV shows, that's not reality.

"That's a Hollywood dramatization. I think that's a technology that will exist someday. But, currently, we don't have the ability, we as the local government, to tie together all those systems, to use that extremely face recognition and all those things," Scott said.

Plus, the police department can't tap into security systems at grocery stores or other public places, either.

"There are literally thousands of different systems within the city. They don't speak to one another," Scott said.

Police must request the video or get a warrant.

But, when you are caught on tape, it's almost impossible to argue with that kind of evidence.

Experts estimate there are more than 30 million surveillance cameras in this country. However, police say all those cameras can sometimes give people a false sense of security. Remember, just because there is a camera somewhere doesn't always mean someone is watching on the other end.

WFMY News 2 also reached out to Guilford County Schools to see how many cameras are watching your children. Administrators say there are 2200 cameras in the district.

However, the cameras are not all linked together. Instead, in most cases, individual schools monitor and control them. The footage is typically used by school resource officers after an incident happens.

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